Sermon- Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church- Germany- LCMS- 8/9/20, *IN NOMINE JESU*
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[a] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today I hope that it feels a little like Reformation Sunday, because our theme from Romans 10 is that faith alonesaves us.
All through his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul has assailed the delusion that the righteousness of the law can save anyone. In other words, as sinners, none of us can be good enough or do enough to make us righteous before the law, for the law is God’s holy standard.
Paul reminds us that God demands perfection. God demands holiness. And the truth is that our world, including you and me, is made up of unholy sinners who deserve God righteous condemnation with the inevitable destination of hell.
And here is the missionary apostle’s summary point: If sinners are to be saved, then God must do it.
Consequently, the Gospel is that God the Father- John 3:16-
…so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
God sent His Son Jesus to save us. Christ was holy and righteous for us, for He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father. He took our place on the cross and paid for our sins, and further He rose from the dead to defeat the power of sin, death and the devil. So when sinners, including you and me, believe in Jesus, then that faith connects us to our Savior… and it is through Him that we receive the benefit of what He has done for us on the cross.
And those benefits are the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life in heaven.
And so we say “faith alone” saves us, because faith connects us to Jesus.
So the first question for us is: What is faith?
The Bible gives us the answer to our first question in Hebrews 11:1-
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
So the central feature of faith is:
- Confidence in what we don’t see, and
- Trust in God and His promises
And here is what God’s Word teaches- All of God’s promises are found in Christ. (see 2nd Corinthians 1:19-20) It is the Holy Spirit Who draws hearts to faith and trust in Jesus as Savior. How do we know this is true? Because 1stCorinthians 12:3 tells us-
…no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed,” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
Think of it this way… so a traveler is in some forlorn place, or a soldier or airman is on TDY, or a teenager is lonely at school, and he/ she knows that in the struggle of living more joy and fulfillment and purpose is needed in life. So they crack open a Bible, or search the internet, or find some Bible teacher or pastor, or sit down with a Christian friend, and in this moment they hear once again, or maybe for the first time the message of Jesus clearly explained…
And it is at this moment that a person, in the power of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit works through the Word, that a person can…
- Connect the dots
- See their sinful/ lost condition
- See their need for a Savior, and…
- Receive Christian faith
God the Spirit works effectively to call all hearts to believe the Gospel. Some sinners in their free will push God away. But others receive the Good News, come to faith, and as followers of Jesus welcome the gifts He gives.
Now again, what is faith? As the Holy Spirit works in us, faith is the gift of God that enables us to come into a relationship with God. For Ephesians 2:8-9 affirms-
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
One hundred and fifty years ago, a Scot missionary named John Paton in the New Hebrides (islands in the SW Pacific) was translating God’s Word into the language of the people, but he was having difficulty finding a locally used word for “faith” which the native people could understand. So one day he sat back in his chair, raised his feet off the floor, and asked his native steward to describe what he was doing.
The steward said- “You’re leaning your whole weight upon that chair.”
And this is how Paton got his word for “faith.” To believe in Jesus, to have faith in Christ, is to lean one’s “whole weight” upon the Savior. We don’t trust in anything else. We don’t trust in our good conduct, or the amount of time we spend in prayer, or in the esteem of others. We don’t even trust in our church body or our Lutheran heritage, for that would make us Pharisees. Instead, from the truth of of God’s Word and in the Biblical understanding given to us by the Holy Spirit, we know that
if we are to be saved, then God must do it through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace is sufficient. Grace is God’s underserved love given to us in Christ. And faith receives God’s grace in His Son. And grace in Jesus is what saves us completely.
Now the Bible tells us that, Hebrews 11:6-
… without faith it is impossible to please Him.
We also learn from Scripture (James 2:26) that-
…faith without works is dead.
And further, I love how Paul describes the Christian life when he says we- 2nd Corinthians 5:7-
…walk (live) by faith, and not by sight.
And here is the thing- In the Holy Spirit’s power , when you “lean in” to God and depend wholly on Him, the Lord will support you in your Christian life. He will “be there” for you in the tough times… through sadness and pain, in times of loss/ tragedy, when you’re unsure of your direction, in the times when you think no one loves you… and all the rest. For in a relationship through faith in Christ, God loves us with an unsurpassed love. And in His love He gives us peace and joy and strength for each day. For God’s Word says that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) And Jesus further tells us in Matthew 28:20-
“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This understanding of faith seems to contain two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectually believing in Jesus is trusting Christ to be Who He says He is- Savior and Lord. So you know the facts, that Jesus died on cross and rose again for your salvation. And then faith relies on Jesus; faith trusts, faith leans one’s whole weightupon Jesus.
And yet I’m going to say that the intellect is NOT as important as one’s heart. And loving Jesus as Savior is the essential element of faith.
A special needs child, or a person with a brain injury, may not understand all the intellectual details of Who Jesus is and what it means to trust in Him. But if a person loves Jesus, that is a solid faith which saves every sinner.
Every Confirmation year, I tell our students that saving faith is not how much you know, it is Who you know. Even the smallest child can understand that we are the sheep of God’s pasture, and that Jesus is our Shepherd who died for the sheep, rose again, and is our Shepherd who saves us and keeps us safe.
A small child need not understand the intricate theology about the Trinity. But if the child knows that Jesus loves him, then that is enough.
For it is the Holy Spirit which works faith in the heart. Baptism is also a means by which infants are drawn to faith in the Savior, for this is God’s action and power through simple water and the Word. Again, it is not how much you know, it is WHO you know.
Using one’s intellect is good. The study of theology and God’s Word will engage the intellect and can be hard work which will give great benefit. But the Spirit and the Word draws hearts to faith and love for Jesus, for verse 17 tells us-
…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
So practically, teaching the Bible stories of Jesus to your children and in our Sunday school classes is of immeasurable importance. And it is the same for all ages because, again, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
God works through His Word to create, deepen, and sustain faith in Him.
All through his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul has assailed the delusion that doing things can save us. God’s grace through faith alone in Jesus is what must save us. For if we are to be saved, then God must do it through Christ. And our Lord Jesus Christ does save us through His cross and resurrection. And this is the good news that we can lean our whole weight upon.
In Jesus’ name. Amen. +Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC- Prayers of the Congregation- Pentecost 10- 8/9/20
Blessed Heavenly Father, we rejoice in Your love which You demonstrated for us in Your Son Jesus Christ. By the power of Your Spirit working through the Word, deepen our faith in You and help us depend upon Your provision.
Lord in Your mercy……………………………… Hear our prayer.
O Lord, our God, we ask You to bless us, our nation and those who lead us. Guide all elected and appointed civil servants in their judgments, that we may know justice in our land and peace among the nations. Make us especially mindful of those who need our special protection, the unborn, the aged and the oppressed.
Lord, in Your mercy……………………………… hear our prayer.
Eternal Holy Spirit, for all who are searching for employment during this time of pestilence, give your aid so that God-pleasing labor might be found with the result that your people can support life and family. Help all who look to You for guidance and provide for all our needs of body and soul.
Lord in Your mercy………………………………….. hear our prayer.
Most Holy Triune God, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For those who are sick, hospitalized, unemployed, lonely, traveling, away of duty assignments, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…
O Lord, our God, we pray You to be our light in darkness, our strength in weakness, our courage in fear, and our peace in distress. Speak to us by the voice of Your Word, that we may call upon You in the day of trouble and confess Your saving name before all people. Hear us on behalf of ourselves and those for whom we have prayed…
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.